Malawians on Thursday were remembering hero of multiparty democracy Chakufwa Tom Chihana on his courageous coming from exile 25 years ago to challeng the entrenched Kamuzu Banda’s 31-year-old autocratic rule under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
The brave Chihana disembarked from a plane on April 6, 1992 at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe, flashed his V finger-victory sign to the people that gathered before he was whisked away in a police vehicle for his detention.
This marked the first step of the complicated journey for the fight for democracy, a taboo word in the then one party rule under the iron fist of Kamuzu Banda.
Karonga Central MP Frank Mwenifumbo, who was Chihana’s personal assistant from 1996 to 2004 remembers Chihana as a very brave person who risked his life when he came to Malawi on April 6, 1992 to dismantle the oppressive one party rule and give Malawians the best ever present, democracy.
“He was a democrat at heart,” said Mwenifumbo adding, “he put Malawi and democracy first, everything second.”
Mwenifumbo said Chihana was very much dedicated to issues of democracy and welfare of ordinary poor Malawians.
“This is why he came back to Malawi on this date to face torture, humiliation and death just to bring democracy to freedom to Malawians,” he said.
Chihana was appointed second vice president twice in the Bakili Muluzi administration and Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development minister in the Bingu wa Mutharika administration before Bingu and Chihana fell off.
Asked why his party, the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) nearly came to extinction with 33 members of parliament in 1994 to one MP now, Mwenifumbo said Chihana’s decision to serve in government cost his political party.
“The political movements which he did cost Aford a lot but he had no choice. He wanted to serve the people of Malawi well in government with a minority party.”
Mwenifumbo said Chihana would have loved to see councils tick as he was a firm believer in decentralisation.
The Karonga Central independent legislator also lamented that the state is not taking care of the freedom fighter’s grave in Mzuzu which is now bushy.
Mwenifumbo however said as Malawians remember Chihana, they should not forget those that fought a long with him, including UK based Ahmed Dassu whom he described as Malawi’s unsung hero.
“Ahmed campaigned hard internationally to have Chihana freed from jail. He bankrolled and made personal funding of all democratic projects of the late Chihana. Ahmed worked tirelessly for democracy in this country but behind the scenes. He made Mr Chihana’s job easier,” said Mwenifumbo.
He said Mr Dassu funded Chihana at very difficult time when people were afraid to associate with Chihana and other freedom fighters whom the then Kamuzu Banda regime labelled as dissidents.
There are no state, party or family activities in Malawi to mark the day except for a post on Facebook which Mwenifumbo posted earlier in the day.
Chihana’s son Enock Chihana, who is Aford president and member of Parliament (MP) for Rumphi Central Constituency went quiet on this day.
His party is also in tatters as political commentators say it is “finished”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :